Sunday, June 17, 2007

As the flags unfurl...Part 3

Each June, volunteers, organizers, supporters and organizations culminate their efforts to produce a week of events in the name of gay pride. However as revelry is often the centerpiece of these activites, everyone should take a moment to understand the basic who, what, when and where involved in the development of the movement. As we reflect on those events, we also continue our Lavender Light showcase offering another individual example of pride.

Pride History: Then and Now...

In June 1969, a group of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people rioted following a police raid on the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar at 43 Christopher Street, New York City. The late Miss Stephen Whittaker a transgender rights activist and founding member of both the Gay Liberation Front and the Gay Activists Alliance, is credited by many as the first to actually strike back at the police and, in doing so, spark the rebellion.

The Stonewall riots are generally considered to be the beginning of the modern gay movement. For example, activist L. Craig Schoonmaker claims to have coined the term "gay pride" in description of the 1969 Stonewall riots.[1]
Gay Liberation Front and Gay Activists Alliance in the early post-Stonewall era, coordinated the first month anniversary rally and then the "Christopher Street Gay Liberation Day March" on June 28, 1970 to commemorate the first year anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion.[2][3]
First year anniversary marches organized by other groups were also held in San Francisco and Los Angeles in 1970.
Howard also originated the idea for a week-long series of events around what is now known as Pride Day; this became the first of the extended annual LGBT Pride celebrations that are now held around the world.
In New York and Atlanta the annual day of celebration to commemorate the Stonewall Riot came to be called Gay Liberation Day; in San Francisco and Los Angeles it was called Gay Freedom Day. Both names spread as more and more cities and towns started holding similar celebrations.
In the 1980s there was a major cultural shift in the Stonewall Riot commemorations. The previous loosely organized, bottom-up marches and parades were taken over by more organised and less radical elements of the gay community. The marches began dropping "Liberation" and "Freedom" from their names under pressure from more conservative members of the community, replacing them with the philosophy of "Gay Pride" (in the more liberal city of San Francisco, the name of the gay parade and celebration was not changed from Gay Freedom Day Parade to Gay Pride Day Parade until 1994). The Greek lambda symbol and the pink triangle which had been revolutionary symbols of the Gay Liberation Movement were tidied up and incorporated into the Gay Pride, or Pride, movement, providing some symbolic continuity with its more radical beginnings.


You only have to hear, Jassiel, to know that you must be talking about the dynamo dancer and a part of the budding entrepreneur team of The Factory nightclub. Recently we talked with him about his goals, aspirations, motivation and dreams as he reliquishes his title of Mr. Gay Pride 2006.

I asked him about his year as Mr. Pride and his advice to the next winner."It' s been a great year and I feel that I've done what I can for the community. I've participated in fundraising and tried to serve the title in the best way that I could". said Jassiel. He continued, "there's no prize or money that comes with it, but I feel that if you are selected, you should do your best to take it seriously. In the past, many winners have been involved just to win and then they either disappear or don't return to pass the title on." What do you feel was your biggest accomplishment? Cortez replied, " the whole year has been good, but completing the year was important to me and this is something that I would like to see other's do as well." According to Jassiel, he and his partner, Davey have big plans for the future of the club. First, they have completed a new lighting and staging area for large productions, also purchased the rights to Miss Arkansas US of A and Miss Twin Cities pageants. " These two pageants were available and we thought it was a good idea to become promoters," he said. " I have been to pageants and watched them so that I will know how to make it work. Also, I've talked to representatives of the Mr. Gay All-American contest about bringing a preliminary back to Arkansas. I just want to do what I can to offer community entertatiners a chance to show their talents and be proud." In closing, I asked Jassiel about his goals for the future and he said, " I want to continue to be active in the community, build the club's business and of course, stay open!"

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